Many couples going through infertility or infertility treatment report feeling sad or depressed during the holiday season. They may not want to hang out with their pregnant cousin or have to answer her great aunt’s questions about why they haven’t conceived. They may be anxious about whether their latest round of IVF worked this time or how they’re going to pay for the next cycle. Add those worries to the regular stressors of the holiday season and it’s easy to see why this is such a difficult time of year for so many people. But there are a lot of steps that couples can take to enjoy their holidays and reduce the anxiety around that time of year.
- 1. Figure out what is stressful for you. Is it facing family? Worrying about finances or weight gain? Pinpointing exactly what the stressor is for you can make it easier to deal with. Even if it’s all of the above, understanding what is bothering you is half the battle.
- 2. Talk to your spouse. Is he dealing with the same anxiety or something completely different? Have a frank discussion about what you both are feeling is important. That way, you can both be on the same page when coming up with a plan to deal with it.
- 3. Come up with a plan. Figure out a way to accommodate both of your needs. This may be simple, as in skipping the large extended family gathering that neither of you want to go to. Or it may mean coming up with a compromise that you can both live with.
There’s nothing like celebrating a holiday with family (especially when people are drinking) that brings up questions that you might not want to talk about. Try strategizing with your significant other before the get-together and come up with a shared response so you both are on the same page. If someone catches you off guard, a simple “when we’re ready” and changing the subject may be sufficient to get your point across. You can even skip the family festivities all together and plan a special vacation away for just the two of you.
On the other hand, it might be helpful to have your family’s support if you are in the middle of or are waiting for the results from your latest cycle. Especially if you have an involved and supportive family, it might be just what you need to distract you from this particular stress.
The holidays are notorious for weight gain. All the yummy treats, holiday parties and cocktails, and family meals are high in calories and can be a disaster for any diet or healthy lifestyle. Try bumping up your activity during December to keep yourself from gaining weight over the holiday season. The extra exercise can help you manage stress levels and prevent depression. You can also temporarily write down your meals using a food diary so you don’t lose track of your calories. One of the best things you can do is to eat before going to your holiday parties. That way, you control what you eat and don’t find yourself munching mindlessly. Avoid sugary cocktails and stick to wine or wine spritzers instead.
The holidays can be an expensive time of year, once you include travel expenses, gifts (particularly if you have a large family), new clothing for parties and shopping for those special holiday meals and treats. If you are saving for another cycle of treatment, or still recovering financially from your last one, it may be necessary to put together a strict budget for this year. Start as early as possible and perhaps do a little bit of shopping with each paycheck. This helps to spread out your expenses over time instead of going into credit card debt at the last minute. There are also a ton of ideas for homemade gifts, which may be more cost-efficient then buying gifts for everyone. Check out some ideas from About.com’s Frugal Living, DIY Fashion or Family Crafts guides.
There are many ways to deal with this stress. First and probably most important, give yourself a break. Go through your list, get rid of the things you don’t want to do and only keep the activities that you absolutely want to do. Second, start early. Instead of leaving your shopping and cooking until the last minute, give yourself a few months to get it all done. Of course, you can’t bake your Christmas cookies in October and expect them to last, but you can pick the recipes you want to make and buy the non-perishable items. You might even be able to prepare the dough and stick it in the freezer for a few weeks. Third, take some time for yourself – take an extra yoga class, plan a massage or a day out with friends or even just read a good book. Do whatever helps you relax and recharge.